On Tuesday, Megha-Tropiques-1, a retired weather satellite was safely brought down by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and burned up in the atmosphere.
In order to gradually lower the satellite’s orbit starting in August 2022, the ISRO performed a total of 20 manoeuvres, using up the 120 kg of fuel that was still unused even at the end of the mission’s lifespan. The satellite underwent its final two manoeuvres on Tuesday night, firing its four onboard thrusters for roughly 20 minutes each, before entering the denser atmosphere and exploding over the Pacific. Large satellites that could survive re-entry through the atmosphere and drop debris on Earth are brought down carefully to prevent human damage.
According to the space agency, the de-boost manoeuvres had to take into account a number of factors, including the re-visibility of the entry from ground stations, ground impact in the intended area, and the maximum thrust and maximum firing time of the thrusters.
“All manoeuvre plans were screened to ensure that there would be no post manoeuvre close approaches with other space objects, especially with the crewed space stations like International Space Stations and the Chinese Space Station,” the space agency said in a release.